Southern China 2009: The How Tough is Your China Built Bike Tour

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Supersignet, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    Southern China 2009: The How Tough is Your China Built Bike Tour<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The Bikes: 2009 Shineray GY-7. A Chinese built 200cc bike with a 21L fuel tank, 16hp engine and a nice set of racks. Total Bike cost delivered to your door in China is 8800 RMB

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    The Luggage: 3 Adlo boxes per bike. Total box cost, 360 RMB per bike

    The Players: Marcus, Lynn (Marcus&#8217; girlfriend), Mike (me) and Lisa (my wife).

    The Budget: 250 RMB a day including fuel, bike maintenance, food, hotels, and touristic fun

    This summer Marcus and I have bought two Shineray GY-7s for a trip around Southern China and will be riding two up for the entire trip. The trip is expected to run close to 7200km in total and will cover the south of China from Guangdong to Yunnan and back again. We have allocated close to 5 weeks for riding. For this trip, fun is and adventure is the key factor.
    Many people have asked me why we chose these 200cc bikes and not something larger. The main reason tell them is that these bikes are light, have a large fuel capacity, have some amazing ground clearance and a fair bit of redundant systems built into the bike. These bikes will do the job they are meant to do without the added costs, legal issues and the ability to indulge our passion for the higher speeds that come with a larger displacement bike. One thing we don&#8217;t want on this trip is an accident that would leave one of us in any sort or reduced capacity for any amount of time. Also in China, speed is one thing that is really not needed. Although China is the third largest country in the world and has the fastest growth rate of any country it has some of the worst road conditions you could ever imagine. Poor road constructions, random farm animals, rock slides, overloaded trucks with drivers who don&#8217;t know what a brake pedal is, locals who have no safety sense that walk out into streets without looking and other random obstacles make China a pretty dangerous place to ride.

    One more reason for the bike trips is this is going to be Marcus&#8217; first real bike trip and first real bike. He had owned a scooter before and had ridden some friend&#8217;s bikes before but had never really owned his own motorcycle. He and I both agreed it was better to start small and for a long trip 200cc is about as small as anyone would ever really want.
    The bikes arrived a few weeks before the trip was set to get underway. Rather than just flying somewhere and picking up the bikes we decided it would be best if we ordered the bikes and had them delivered to us before we left so Marcus could get some practice in and we could work out the all of the kinks that come with owning a Chinese made motorcycle. All Chinese bikes come with their own fair share of problems that need to be worked out and this time was no exception. My bike came one week before Marcus&#8217; and that gave me a little time to get used to it. This was my second attempt at the GY-7. My first ended with the triple clamp snapping on me while I was riding it. A year later there had been no more reported cases of the snapping triple clamp problems and I was assured by the factory that the new design was more than up to the task. I decided to roll the dice on another one for a few reasons, the first being that massive gas tank, the second is the bike comes well setup for luggage and the third was that before the clamps snapped I actually really liked riding the bike. It was smooth and the wide seat made long distance rides more comfortable than many of the available alternatives.

    This time when my bike arrived from the factory I had a good look at the clamps and they seemed to be built much better than the ones that were on the early bikes, still not CNC&#8217;d from high quality aluminum, but still better. The bike went together easily and I was on and testing it in no time. After testing it was discovered that the rear brake was too tight (an easy fix) and that the bike was sent to me with a faulty stator. The bike also came with more vibrations than I remembered and that was eventually traced back to a snapped engine mount bolt. A week later Marcus&#8217; bike came with air in the front brake line and a pile of loose bolts. I know it sounds like a lot for any new bike, but this is China and almost everything done here is usually done wrong. These problems are improving and even under all of the poor quality control there is actually a nicely thought out bike that has the potential to haul your ass and your gear in at least minimal comfort across China with minimal fuel stops.

    After a few nights of planning an idea for a route was set. We decided to head west and get as far into the northern mountains of Yunnan as we could. The first day we would have to push the bikes for close to 600km, but after that we would try to keep riding to a maximum of 400km.

    We threw the boxes on the bikes and on July 26<sup>th</sup> at 6:00 we hopped on the bikes and headed North West from Guangzhou to China&#8217;s famous Yangshuo.
    #1
  2. Hipster

    Hipster Long timer

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    Good luck with your adventure, I hope this time the bikes are problem free...
    #2
  3. M1tch

    M1tch Been here awhile

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    ready and waiting :lurk
    #3
  4. KinkyWinks

    KinkyWinks El Gringo Perdido

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    I could not find a conversion for RMB to US Dollars
    #4
  5. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    It's around 6.8 RMB to 1 USD

    In USD the bikes cost about $1290, The budget is under $40 a day
    #5
  6. beemer boy

    beemer boy Oh no, he's gone Asian

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    Good to see you on the road !!! Have to laugh at your new bike problems. My brother bought a brand new Qing Qi bike in Xian. It lasted three kilometers before coasting to the side of the road with an electrical short. Turns out the clamp holding down the battery had shorted the positive terminal......You are a brave man to only allow a week to " sort" out problems. :deal
    Have a great trip, and ride slow...............You are right, that is the secret to staying alive in China. Looking forward to the pictures.
    #6
  7. pinglow

    pinglow Adventurer wannabe!

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    Beautiful Bike! With gear indicator? Well done!
    #7
  8. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    Day 1: July 26, Guangzhou to Yangshuo<o:p></o:p>

    Yangshuo was about 600km away. We thought we would average about 60kmph and be there in about 10 hours. Early morning was the best time to get on the road. So we were up at 5:00 and were on the road by 6:00. This was supposed to be a boring ride, a good time for Marcus to really get used to the bike and get more practice riding on Chinese roads. Most of the ride was on minor roads with minimal traffic.

    From Guangzhou to the Guangxi border was about 270km and we were hoping to get that done before lunch. The bikes were working great and the ride was nice and relaxing. We were managing a good pace and even managed a small ferry crossing after we took a wrong turn down the wrong side of a river. Everything was going great then I looked in my mirror and saw there was no Marcus behind me. I pulled over to the side of the road and waited for about 5 minutes, still no Marcus. I decided to turn the bike around and go have a look. I got about half a kilometer down the road and saw Marcus riding towards me. He waved me on and we pressed on. It wasn&#8217;t until we stopped about 40km down the road that I noticed he and Lynn had fallen. His hand guard was rashed and his right side box was scraped up pretty nicely. I asked if they were both okay and they said their gear did its job and that neither of them had any problems. Marcus&#8217; arm was scrapped up a bit where he hadn&#8217;t tightened his arm strap, but there was no major problem. I asked if they wanted to stop for the day and they said they&#8217;d stop in Yangshuo.

    We pressed on to the Guangxi border and stopped for lunch in a small restaurant on the side of the road. I asked where the toilet was and the owner kindly showed me down the stairs to the kitchen. I looked around and on the other side of the kitchen was the toilet. There it was a nice hole in the ground tucked behind a small door about 2m away from where our lunch was being made. I was a little shocked, but this is China and I was hungry. I went up and informed the crew about the toilet/kitchen situation and asked them if they wanted to keep going to find another place. They said no and we waited for our food to arrive. Surprisingly enough the food was actually really good. None of us got sick and even better none of us died from eating there. While we were eating the skies opened up and the rain hit the ground hard. We waited for about 40 minutes, but the rain didn&#8217;t look like it was about to stop. We still had a long way go so we got back on the bikes, twisted the grips and plowed on towards Yangshou.

    At about 4:00 we ran into a traffic jam. The jam was about 15km long and was caused by a jackknife truck. As we made our way through the jam the rain got worse and worse. It was so bad at one point visibility was at best zero. We had to stop. We were still about 200km from our destination. Our asses were hurting, we had no rain gear and the skies were very angry. My glasses were so badly fogged from the lack of movement in the traffic jam that I was literally blind. We were not going as fast as we had hoped and we were leery of making Yangshou before the dark hit us. As the rain let up a bit we got back on the road. We were determined to make it in to Yangshuo today.

    With darkness coming and only 40 km left we decide to chance death and ride at night. Riding at night in China is probably one of the most dangerous things any person anywhere in the world can do. This is something we promised ourselves that we would avoid at any cost and here it was on day one, we were about one hour from our destination and it was dark. I don&#8217;t really understand why but most people in China always drive their cars, trucks, bikes or whatever with their high beams on all the time. Add to this all the slow moving water buffalos, bicycles, carts, people, and the masses of random rocks and other normal debris you find on Chinese roads and you start to understand why it is so dangerous. Lucky we managed to pull up behind a large bus and we just let the driver guide us into to town.

    We arrived at about 9:30. It had been a long day complete with rain, a toilet / kitchen lunch, a ferry crossing and a motorcycle crash. We were behind schedule be we had made it. The bikes managed the load well and were comfortable cruising near 90kmph. Not bad considering what the bikes were hauling. When I filled up the tank just outside of Yangshuo and did the math I was amazed to find out we managed 32km per liter. I don&#8217;t know how we managed that, but if we could keep it up it looks like the bikes would be able to get us to Yunnan and back with only a few trips to the pumps.
    Pics to come later...
    #8
  9. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    Thanks. The bike does look good from most angles. It comes with its quirks and problems, but it does the job the well. Yeah that is a gear indicator.
    #9
  10. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    I'm sure you also know that once you work out the problems, the bikes can be quite good and even pretty reliable. You've put more than a few amazing miles on your Qingqi:freaky
    #10
  11. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    Day 2: July 27, Exploring Yangshuo<o:p></o:p>

    Day two was supposed to be a relaxing reward for the long haul we had just done the day before. The ride had been a rough one. Marcus&#8217; arm was a little swollen and we wanted a break in picturesque Yangshuo.

    Yangshuo is a major tourist destination in China. Loads of people go there for the amazing landscape and photo takable views. The main attraction is the Li River. Which is rumored to be the cleanest river in China. When looking at it one can see how clean it is and can only hope China can keep it that way. Yangshuo is packed full of western restaurants selling every type of food you can imagine and all kinds of people hawking whatever you can imagine.

    Yangshuo is a nice vacation destination for some and I can understand the attraction, but for me at this, the busy time of year, Yangshuo kind of got on my nerves. Dealing with the masses of people trying to sell you everything and asking you to rent their bikes takes quite a bit away from the relaxing demeanor of the landscape. We however decided for our one relaxing day in town we would indulge a little in the tourist culture. We were interested in finding a relaxing touristy activity for the day and after visiting one old town near moon hill we went and found ourselves a nice old town. We quickly ripped out the cameras and started shooting away. We spent about an hour in the old town with the camera and talking to the locals. To relax after all the shutter clicking we wanted to relax on the water. We found a bamboo rafting trip down one of the small rivers that make up the amazing regional scenery.

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    The bamboo rafting trip cost us 120 RMB for each couple for a nice relaxing 2 hour cruise. While on the rafts we were offered beer, coke, ice cream and other eatables at many a bamboo raft vendor shop. The beer is kept cold in coolers and is easily reachable from your private bamboo raft. I rode down the river with camera in tow snapping as many photos as I could. I enjoyed the trip. After the trip we rode a mini-bus back to the bikes, got on and headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up for dinner.

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    For dinner we went a small restaurant called &#8220;The Here&#8221; and had some nice wood oven pizza and 10 RMB Gin and Tonics. The pizza was great and if anyone is headed through Yangshuo you should check this place out.

    After dinner we made a priority out of finding some rain gear for the coming day&#8217;s ride. With all the rainy weather we had encountered we were in definite need for condom like feel of poor quality rain gear. Due to Yangshuo&#8217;s high touristic appeal it is one of the few places in southern China a person of normal size might be able to find shoes or any clothing article in an appropriate size. My wife and I were quite lucky to find a matching set of bright purple rain gear. Marcus&#8217; was convinced his pants would with stand the rain and decided it would be best for him to only go with a rain jacket. Lynn also picked up a full suit.
    #11
  12. overtakenagain

    overtakenagain Adventurer

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    Great stuff. How did the bikes work out by the end? or are you going to make us wait?:evil
    #12
  13. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    Some pics of the bikes some pics of the crash damage


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    #13
  14. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    More Yangshuo photos

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    #14
  15. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    More old town photos

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    #15
  16. overtakenagain

    overtakenagain Adventurer

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    This thread deserves bumping back up. Wonderful pics!:clap
    #16
  17. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the bump
    #17
  18. Supersignet

    Supersignet Been here awhile

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    Day 3: July 28, Yanshuo to LiuZhou to YiZhou<o:p></o:p>

    Another morning came and we looked outside to see a dry but ominous sky. We packed the bikes, had breakfast and hit the road to our lunch time stop of Liuzhou. Liuzhou was about 190km from Yangshou and we expected a nice ride through some increasingly interesting landscapes. The first hour of the ride went well, no crashes and nothing out of the ordinary, then the angry sky opened up and we pulled over to throw on our rain gear. Looking like a couple of bright purple penis heads my wife and I were very ugly and very dry. Marcus&#8217; plan to avoid the rain pants in an effort to stay cool and dry didn&#8217;t work well. When we arrived in Liuzhou around 1:00 he was cold, bitter and soaked. We started to look for a place to eat. We rode around for about 30 minutes trying to find a restaurant that wasn&#8217;t selling noodles or dog meat or some combination of the two. We finally arrived at a Northern Dumpling Restaurant.

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    The food was good. We had the restaurant all to ourselves and we started to talk about where we wanted to go as our final destination for the day. We looked at the map and decided our best choice was Yizhou about another 160km from Liuzhou. We planned from Yizhou to go look for some minority villages.One thing we had forgot to consider was that before we could get to Yizhou we first had to get out of Liuzhou . It seemed everyone asked had no idea or had no interest in anything outside of Liuzhou. We must have asked 20 different people that all gave us different answers. Even the police were no real help. After eating lunch and riding around Liuzhou for what seemed like forever I looked at my watch and saw we were approaching 4:00. With another 3-4 hours riding ahead I started to worry again about having to ride at night. Luckily just as I was about to give up for the day a local lead me out of the city through some rice fields and onto a main road that lead to our destination.

    It was now after 4:00 and we had to make good time. Happily the rain had stopped and we had started to see the first glimmer of sunshine of our trip. The roads ahead were nice, smooth and empty. It looked like we would be able to make some good time and safely make it to Yizhou. We stopped from time to time to take some photos and have a drink and to rest our asses. It was a nice ride. We saw our first sun, got to see some nice landscapes and Marcus was able to dry his pants out. We made it into Yizhou just after 7:00. Still plenty of light left. We found a cheap motel, paid our 60RMB, got some dinner and settled down for the night.
    #18
  19. kirrainasia

    kirrainasia Apprentice DirtyOldCodger

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    Once again mate, excellent pics, something I really have to work on for the future. I'm still chopping off heads and getting generally crap photos. I was in Yangzhuo last week, I agree that it's a tourist trap now, a real painted up slut of a place with touts flogging evrything you could imagine. Including the girls on the back of their scooters.

    We rode from Guangzhuo to Yangshuo via Wuzhuo and then took road north to Sanjiang. Following alongside the river for quite a ways, I recommend that route, little traffic, windy smooth roads and great scenery.
    #19
  20. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Good to see you post again.. it's been a while and it looks like the bike is holding up too :thumb
    #20